James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy’s recent “sonata theory” promotes a fundamental distinction between sonata expositions that are either two-part or continuous.  I contend that this binary opposition misconstrues the commonality of formal procedures operative in classical sonata form.  Advocating a form-functional approach, I argue that all sonata expositions contain a subordinate theme (or, at least, sufficient functional elements of such a theme), even if the boundary between the transition and subordinate theme is obscured.  I illustrate three categories of such a blurred boundary: (1) the transition lacks a functional ending, but the subordinate theme still brings an initiating function of some kind; (2) the transition ends normally, but the subordinate theme lacks a clear beginning;  and (3) both the transition lacks an end and the subordinate theme lacks a beginning, thus effecting a complete fusion of these thematic functions.  I extend my consideration of such fusion processes to other formal types, such as slow-movement forms, minuet, and rondo, in order to place the technique as its arises in sonata-form expositions in a broader perspective.  In comparing my theory of formal functions to sonata theory, I invoke the “sonata clock” metaphor, introduced by Hepokoski and Darcy, and show that our respective clocks have different “hour” markers and run at different speeds.  I conclude by examining some of the key conceptual differences that account for the divergent views of expositional structures offered by sonata theory and a theory of formal functions, focusing especially on the status of the medial caesura as a necessary condition for the appearance of a subordinate theme.

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